Many times, in African Churches I have heard the refrain ‘God is Good’ to which the congregation replies ‘All the time.’ The minister then calls out again ‘All the time’ and the church responds ‘God is good.’
Of course, God is good all the time but when we are in the midst of a difficult time, it can be hard to see exactly how good God is.
Today we have been thinking about Job and a prayer that he prays at the end of the book about his story.
Although the book of Job is placed towards the middle of the Old Testament, it is probable that Job actually lived before the time of Moses and as he lives in the land of Ur it is unlikely that he is an Israelite.
It is an understatement to say that Job has been in the midst of a difficult time. In one day he lost his entire family in a tragic accident. All his children wiped out, unexpectedly and without warning. Imagine first, the grief that would cause. Then Job gets sick. Not just feeling a bit unwell but terrible, painful sores, all over his body. As we talked about yesterday, Job is wearing sackcloth and has put ashes on his head as an outward display of his mourning but it is as if the painful sores on his body are an outward display of the agony that is in his heart.
At a time when people believed that if you were good and faithful to God you would live a long and prosperous life, Job never believed that he deserved any of his hardship and throughout the book has been questioning why this ill-fortune has happened to him.
His friends told him it was because of a secret sin that needed to be repented of but Job claims that he is a righteous man. He feels that his lot is completely unfair.
The thing is, God is fair. He is good all of the time. We just don’t understand why some things happen because we cannot always see the bigger picture.
Finally in chapter 38 God comes and speaks directly to Job. I think that God must be fed up with Job’s moaning and the poor advice being given to him by his friends.
God doesn’t answer the question about why Job is suffering so badly, he doesn’t reveal the bigger picture instead he reveals some of himself to Job. Through this conversation Job begins to appreciate some of the greatness of God.
God asks, who exactly do you think you are, questioning my decisions?
Were you here when I created the Earth? When I set the sea in its place?
When I caused the dawn to rise?
Do you know where the gates of death are located?
Do you know where the snow is stored?
Do you set a path for the rain or the lightening to fall?
Do you direct the movement of the stars or the cluster of the constellations?
Who is it that gives intuition to the heart?
Who is it that provides food for the lions and the ravens to ensure that their young are fed?
Are you there when wild animals give birth?
Have you given animals their characteristics, speed, strength or beauty?
Is it your wisdom that makes hawks and eagles fly like they do?
At this point Job realises that he has spoken unfairly but God continues.
He asks: Are you as strong as me?
Can you thunder with a voice as loud as mine?
If you could do even some of what I do, I would worship you!
Look at the creatures I have made, look at the way I have made them, Look, I have even made you.
And think too of the mighty creatures I have made that live in the sea. Can you make anything that compares to them?
If you cannot stand up to some of these great creatures I have made, how can you hope to stand against me?
Can you give me anything that isn’t already mine?
There are so many wonderful truths in these statements.
At this point, Job does ask God for for forgiveness. Not for some hidden sin, but because he has questioned and not trusted God’s sovereignty and justice.
Tonight, are you going through a difficult time?
At the time of writing this we are beginning to emerge from the Coronavirus pandemic, we have been locked at home unable to meet with family and friends. It is a difficult time for many, especially those who are sick or who have lost loved ones. It would be understandable to question whether God is in charge of this situation or not and to ask why this is this happening to us? And we might not be able to answer those questions directly at the moment but we can trust that God knows what is going on, that he is with us in this tragedy and that he is a mighty God with a plan and a purpose that we just don’t understand.
Instead, let’s consider chapters 38-41 of Job and reflect on how wonderful and awesome and mighty and beautiful and clever and just our God is.
Let us give ourselves over to worship and trust his judgement. And let us not forget to ask for forgiveness for the times that we have not trusted him wholeheartedly and for not giving him the credit and the glory that is due to him.